Writing for the Web


  • Concise writing is best. Keep it short, but don’t “dumb it down.”
  • Try to limit yourself to one idea per paragraph.
  • Write as informally as is appropriate for your audience. Formal writing takes careful reading, and most web readers don’t want to do that.
  • Avoid clever headings and cute catchphrases that aren’t quickly obvious to the readers.


  • As a general rule, avoid empty chatter like welcoming text or instructions on using the site. Users are looking for information.
  • Try to use no more than half the words you would use in a printed publication.
  • Keep pages short if the user is likely to read the material online.
  • Use short text segments, written in a clear, easy-to-understand style.


  • Documents must be concise and structured for scanning. Use headings, bulleted lists, and bold text for words and sections you want to emphasize.
  • Put the important information at the top of the page so users can find it quickly.
  • Make sure the first sentence in any paragraph captures the essence of the paragraph.


  • Keep your content up to date. Users expect the material to be current.
  • If you are stating something as a fact, be sure it is a fact.
  • Write your text in a program that has spell-checking and search features before transferring it to html.
  • Proofread your text (and have someone else proofread it as well) before putting it online.


  • Use clear and concise wording for your links so users know where the link will take them and what information they are likely to find.
  • Hypertext links should supplement your message, not substitute for it or distract from it. Don’t arbitrarily send readers to another page.
  • Put only the most relevant and significant links in the body of your text. Group minor, illustrative, or footnote links at the bottom of the page.
  • Most links should lead to other documents in your site, not to someone else’s site. Make sure readers know when they will be leaving your site.
  • Don’t underline any copy in your site. Most browsers automatically display links with underlines, and underlining any other text may confuse readers.